Sunday night at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair saw the $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing, presented by Salt Works, take place for the second year in a row, after an extremely successful inaugural year in 2017. The competition utilized both the Dixon Oval and the Wheeler Ring and highlighted two out of three disciplines that make up three-day eventing: cross country and stadium jumping. Twenty-eight horse-and-rider combinations took to the ring to compete for the title, but it was Chris Talley and Sandro’s Starwho ultimately put in two clear rounds to take home the top prize of the evening.
Famed course designer Captain Mark Phillips constructed the 26-obstacle course for the second year in a row. The course highlighted the most challenging elements in cross-country, including corner obstacles and skinny brushes, while also incorporating the best of show jumping including a triple bar fence and liverpool vertical. During the first round of competition, the course required riders to travel from the Dixon Oval over nine fences before continuing on to the Wheeler Ring and then ending the course back in the Dixon Oval. The second round of competition was limited to just the Dixon Oval and saw the top 12 athletes return.
Talley first entered the ring on another mount, long-time partner Unmarked Bills, but ultimately fell victim to fallen rails throughout the course. Later on, Talley and Sandro’s Star, an Oldenburg stallion owned by Talley’s business partner and close friend, Hannah Salazaar, put in a flawless clear round by keeping a swift pace that would keep them under the time-allowed, which caused many problems for athletes throughout the evening. Talley was last to go in the second round of competition and needed to put in a fault-free round in order to overtake first place, which he did in a time of 78.26 seconds.
Talley and Sandro’s Star have been partnered together for just over a year. The stallion is no stranger to winning at the Devon showgrounds, having won Champion Stallion and Highscore Born in the USA during the 2017 Dressage at Devon event in addition to winning USEA 2017 Stallion of the Year. The pair will try their hand at CCI3* events in the near future, including Great Meadows International.
Second place was stolen by Devon Arena Eventing defending champion Sarah Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’ysieux, an 11-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by Rubens D’ysieux Syn. LLC. The pair also put in two fast, clear rounds that would put the pressure on Talley to produce yet another flawless round. In third place was eventing star Phillip Dutton and his first mount of the night, Sportsfield Candy, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding.
The Devon Arena Eventing competition was met with the highest standards and was supported by top riders across the nation. The Devon Horse Show was thrilled to offer arena eventing for the second year in a row and looks forward to hosting more new events in the future as well as continuing on with the classic traditions it is famously known for.
Chris Talley – $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing winner
On Sandro’s Star:
“He’s very new. We were laughing about it last week. I did my first event on him last year at the Prelim level. He was born here in the U.S. but he had such great scores at the stallion testing that they sent him to Europe and he was the highest-placed American bred stallion. He did a CIC1* with Dora Feld and then was re-imported. We got the opportunity to buy him and I took around five months getting to know him and then took him in the Prelim level in 2017. He then went to the 2* level and just did his first Advanced CIC3* this year. He’s the ultimate event horse – fancy on the flat and a good show jumper. He’s super brave cross country.”
On Sunday’s course:
“I was a little overwhelmed when I was walking the course and didn’t know how it was going to ride. It rode beautifully and going quick in a small space over solid obstacles, you’re not really sure [about striding], but I think they did a wonderful job designing the courses and it challenged the horses but also rewarded them. [During the jump-off] I thought I was a bit slow after fence 15 (brush fence) there and I thought I lost him a little bit in the turn, but I saw a good shot at the last and kept galloping down it, praying it stayed up.”
On his background:
“I was a working student for Ryan Wood and worked at Iron Spring Farm, which is a big breeding facility here in Pennsylvania, and then I did sale horses growing up. I had a pony that I took to Intermediate. We had him since he was born, kind of out of chance. My mom and dad bought a mare at New Holland auction and it it turned out she was pregnant. He ended up being my pony that I took to Intermediate. I moved to Virginia and that is when I met Hannah and we joined businesses and have been best friends ever since. We work together everyday and she has been such an amazing supporter and her and her husband have been wonderful and given me so many opportunities. I’m happy to be able to do this for him. It all goes back to them.”
On plans for the future:
“I will be coming back [to Devon Arena Eventing]. I think Devon is such a big horse show for this area and the country in general. People all over the country talk about it and I grew up thirty-five minutes away in Honeybrook, Pennsylvania, so its always been sort of a hometown show. I think it’s fun to come back here and see old friends and come with new friends as well.”
Sarah Kozumplik Murphy – $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing second place
On Rubens D’ysieux:
“He’s a really cool horse. He is actually the quietest, easiest horse. He’s like a riding school pony, but here you cannot reason with him. He’s out there prancing around and loves coming here. He had a really great year last year and he got listed onto the training list, but when I came back from Mill Street I was in a warmup and another horse went to kick my horse but ended up kicking my knee. It broke my knee. I was on bed rest for seven weeks.”
On Devon Arena Eventing:
“Last year [after my win at Devon Arena Eventing] I went to Bromont and then I went to Mill Street in Ireland, and this paid for half of my flight to go to Mill Street. It’s really good for us in eventing. We are getting a few things with more prize money, but it is a really big deal for us. To have something like this where we can get a bit of cash on a good horse makes life a lot easier. The crowd here is like nothing I have ever seen before in this country. Even in Kentucky, it’s not like that carnival atmosphere where so many people are are cheering along.”
On dealing with the stress of the sport:
“I felt like I wasn’t doing [Rubens D’ysieux] justice, so I took a step back from the sport and I started seeing a sports psychologist. I feel better now and the last couple of outings have been fantastic. I wanted to come here because it’s a little bit of pressure for me. Physically I feel good finally and mentally I feel like I am addressing something. Cross country has always been easy for me. In my opinion, you’ve got to do everything you can to make yourself better in this sport and I don’t think that’s something we should be weird about.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults / Time | R2 Faults / Time
1. Sandro’s Star / Chris Talley / Hannah Salazar / 0 / 146.89 | 0 / 78.26
2. Rubens D’ysieux / Sarah Kozumplik Murphy / Rubens D’ysieux Syn. LLC. / 0 / 145.27 | 0 / 78.58
3. Sportsfield Candy / Phillip Dutton / Kevin Keane / 1 / 152.57 | 0 / 78.64
4. Honor Me / Lisa Marie Fergusson / Lisa Marie Fergusson / 0 / 135.00 / 4 / 73.01
5. The Manager / Phillip Dutton / Ann Jones / 0 / 145.44 |4 / 77.40
6. Corvett / Emily Hamel / Black Flag Option LLC / 1 / 152.32 | 4 / 83.94
7. Shiraz / Colleen Rutledge / Colleen Rutledge / 2 / 154.89 | 4 / 80.58
8. Contestor / Boyd Martin / Denise Lahey / 4 / 146.75 | 4 / 80.26
9. Joker’s Win / Ema Klugman / Ema Klugman / 3 / 159.10 | 5 / 88.28
10. Sir Patico MH / Cornelia Dorr / Cornelia Dorr / 4 / 145.56 | 5 / 88.19
11. Landlunar / Lisa Marie Fergusson / Lisa Marie Fergusson / 3 / 159.71 | 10 / 93.81
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